play card collection

Playing Card Enthusiast, Collector, or Addict - Which Are You?

by BoardGameGeek reviewer EndersGame

Do you consider yourself a casual playing card enthusiast, who merely dabbles in playing cards and occasionally buys something? Or are you more of a serious hobbyist and collector, with a level of involvement that rates somewhere between passion and fanaticism? Or have you perhaps moved beyond this stage already, and would you consider yourself an addict?

Here's your guide for how to move from a complete playing card novice to a full blown playing card addict, in eight easy steps. This isn't intended to be taken too seriously, of course. It's more of a light hearted look at how many of us dive into the rabbit hole of custom playing cards.

Most of us begin in blissful ignorance, not even knowing that custom playing cards even exist. But somewhere along the line we have a moment of enlightenment, and we discover an exciting new world. And we dive in head first. And before we know it, we've moved from being a complete muggle, to a casual enthusiast, to a serious collector, and perhaps even to an addict.

play card collection

The Making of a Collector and an Addict

So how does this happen, and what are the typical stages that this journey usually involves? With tongue firmly in cheek, let's tour through the stages that describe the typical evolution from a complete playing card newbie into a passionate collector and beyond. As you read this, ask yourself if any of the stages below sound familiar, and if you can recognize any of this development in your own experience with the world playing cards.

The entry level MUGGLE

Stage 1: Ignorance
This is how we all begin. At first you don't have any playing cards. Well maybe a well-worn dog-eared deck. Perhaps even a classic Bicycle deck. But why would you ever need anything more than that? It's doing the job just fine. You use it for the occasional card game, and perhaps even some card magic. You certainly don't need to be spending money on buying more.
Level 1 status: MUGGLE 


Stage 2: Entrance
But then you stumble across your first ever deck of custom playing cards. Maybe it is a purchase on a whim while shopping. Maybe someone gives it to you as a gift. Maybe you are just browsing online and become curious about something you saw on a website. Whatever the case, it starts with that one deck.
Level 2 status: RECRUIT

Yes, you own a deck of playing cards, but you are basically still a playing card MUGGLE.

play card collection

How to level up to ENTHUSIAST

Stage 3: Enlightenment
It is just one deck at first. But that is enough to make you start climbing down the rabbit hole. And what do you find there? A dead rabbit? No, more decks. Amazing decks! A whole world of stunningly beautiful custom decks that you never knew existed. So you buy another one. And then a few more.
Level 3 status: TRAINEE

Stage 4: Exploration
Now you start browsing online sites that sell playing cards. You check out Kickstarter projects for playing cards. Holy cow, how did you never know about this before? Before you know it, you are making a mental list of decks that you want to get. Decks that you can't live without. You are well on your way to becoming a collector.
Level 4 status: ENTHUSIAST

Congratulations, you are now a playing card ENTHUSIAST!

play card collection

How to level up to COLLECTOR

Stage 5: Acquisition
Without realizing it, you've levelled up. Because now you don't just have one or two decks. Now you have half a dozen or so, and it is the start of a collection. It dawns on you that you are becoming a collector, and this is becoming a new hobby and passion.
Level 5 status: COLLECTOR

Stage 6: Anticipation
But does it stop there? Oh no it doesn't. You aren't content with those half a dozen decks. Because there is more goodness that you've feasted your eyes on, and that you've set your heart on. Now you are seriously considering making your first ever Kickstarter pledge for a crowdfunded deck. You've signed up with Kickstarter already. And you've actually signed up for an account with a playing card retailer. You've discovered some playing card forums, and learned that there are other collectors out there just like you. Only their collections are even bigger. For now.
Level 6 status: CONNOISSEUR

Congratulations, you are most definitely a playing card COLLECTOR, and crossed this line some time ago already!

play card collection

How to level up to ADDICT

Stage 7: Congestion
You are becoming an authority on the subject of playing cards. What started as just a couple of decks collecting dust in the games cupboard, is now becoming a feature on your desk and in your bedroom. You find yourself making a miniature display of your favourites on your desk. You begin thinking about storage solutions and display options for the ever growing number of playing cards arriving at your house.
Level 7 status: FANATIC

Stage 8: Profusion
Now you have an over-abundance of decks, and getting more all the time. You aren't just pledging for Kickstarters anymore, but you're subscribing to them long before they even launch. You're a full-blown addict, and your family is thinking about staging an intervention.
Level 8 status: ADDICT

We're not sure if congratulations are still in order, but you are definitely now a full blown playing card ADDICT!

So where do you fit on the spectrum between a playing card muggle and a playing card addict? And is there a point where you cross an invisible line, and move from being a collector and become an addict? While this has been a light-hearted article, genuine addictions are a real problem. But then the issue isn't typically what we're buying, but why.

If we have genuinely moved beyond the collector threshold and into the territory of addiction, the real problem isn't with playing cards, but with ourselves. It's human nature to make the mistake of always wanting more, and think that it will make us happy. Which it won't, because there will always be that one thing that we don't yet have and want. Letting this insatiable appetite for more go unchecked is going to be an issue with any hobby, when we give material things more value than we should. It's a virtue to be content rather than covetous.

Final thoughts

Having a lot of playing cards doesn't mean you're an addict. In fact, you may even have more playing cards than you want or need, and that doesn't necessarily have to be an indication of a serious problem. The collector's mindset happens in all areas of life, and there can be legitimate reasons for it. Playing cards can give a lot of joy, the same as any other product. We are living in a time where the level of quality and creativity is increasing. Not only are we seeing new levels of inventiveness and creative originality, technical innovations enable the publishing decks of unprecedented quality. It's little wonder that many of us find the multitude of custom playing cards constantly appearing on the market irresistibly attractive. If we give them their proper place in our lives, we are allowed to enjoy created things.

Furthermore, playing cards are a consumable. They do wear out, so there's nothing wrong with having a ready supply on hand to replace older decks as they become worn. This not only holds true for card gamers, but is especially the case if you enjoy card magic or card flourishing, where intense usage will see the handling qualities and looks of a deck deteriorate quite rapidly. Plus you can always resell your decks if you want to. Playing cards produced in limited editions for collectors can often hold their value reasonably well.

In the current boom of high quality custom playing cards, it's not hard to see how a collector's mindset can develop. But it is good to remind ourselves from time to time to keep things in moderation, and not to put too much emphasis on things that don't last. So regardless of where you are on our spectrum, let's take the time to enjoy our playing cards, but ensure that we master them, rather than have them master us. And remember that there are things that are of far more value in life than playing cards, like relationships, family and friends. That said, happy collecting!

play card collection

About the writerEndersGame is a well-known and respected reviewer of board games and playing cards. He loves card games, card magic, cardistry, and card collecting, and has reviewed several hundred boardgames and hundreds of different decks of playing cards. You can see a complete list of his game reviews here, and his playing card reviews here. He is considered an authority on playing cards and has written extensively about their design, history, and function, and has many contacts within the playing card and board game industries. You can view his previous articles about playing cards here. In his spare time he also volunteers with local youth to teach them the art of cardistry and card magic.

Last update date: 08/25/21

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Jane on 2021,11,09

Tom what a wonderful hobby played with my great grandma and brings back pleasent in my 70s so I really enjoy the card clubs and getting mail

Tom on 2021,10,05

Another great article. Some great words of wisdom and advice at the very end as well.

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